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A third of doctors are suffering from burnout and stress

Underfunding and workforce shortages are to blame, says BMA

Almost a third of UK doctors could be suffering from burnout, stress and compassion fatigue, a survey reveals.

The study, published in the BMJ Open journal, shows A&E doctors and GPs are the most likely to feel burnt out.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association, argued that years of systemic underfunding and serious workforce shortages mean NHS doctors are working longer hours in highly pressured, understaffed environments, and their wellbeing is suffering as a result.

Medics in A&E units are the most burned out and stressed

The findings were based on responses from 1,651 doctors who filled in a survey distributed by medical royal colleges last autumn.

Their overall score for their resilience was found to be 65 out of 100, which is lower than in previous comparable research.

Hospital doctors were more resilient than family doctors, and consultants were more resilient than recently qualified doctors.

Almost one in three doctors (31%) had high levels of burnout, the same proportion had compassion fatigue, and one in four said they were under a lot of stress.

Medics in A&E units were much more burned out and stressed than those in other areas of care, while GPs had the lowest scores for compassion satisfaction.

GPs report the lowest scores for compassion satisfaction

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said workload in general practice is rapidly increasing in terms of volume and complexity, yet the resources to deal with this are inadequate.

“We also lack the time we need with our patients to provide the holistic care that GPs excel at delivering,” he added. “Particularly at a time when more patients are living with multiple, long-term conditions, the standard 10-minute consultation is increasingly unfit for purpose, yet offering longer consultations would mean offering fewer, and many GP practices are already booked up weeks in advance.”

An NHS spokesperson told the Guardian: “Staff are the lifeblood of the NHS, which is why we are now for the first time offering the most comprehensive national mental health support offer to doctors of any health system in the world and are committed to doing similarly with other staff groups, as part of our NHS long-term plan.”